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Sigh! Our game sorely lacking drama of yore

Our Kenyan Premier League teams should practice a bit harder to make the competition and our national teams stronger.

In previous year’s Harambee Stars success depended on Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards strength.

Most of the players had achieved success at junior level, and it was up to them to ensure that they replicated that form at senior level.

Their is no gain saying this, but it all starts at junior level.

Some of us had a chance to watch and even organize serious youth football tournaments where players began developing their skills at an early stage to be able to feed into high school and provincial teams.

Maybe we should return to those days when teams would practice two or three times each day to help players develop better.

The estate tournaments gave coaches the best chance to pick the right players to join clubs and age grade national teams.

Teams participated in up to six tournaments for ages 10-16. These leagues took place on weekends and were structured with coaches possessing plenty of football experience and knowledge.

Players were evaluated by the coaches on their overall game, passing, shooting, ball control and decision making.

The end of the season consisted of knockouts and championship finals where excellence awards and trophies were handed to the winners.

Most of the players from these tournaments joined top league clubs including Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards making the battle between the big two always very competitive.

Matches between the two sides were always preceded by tense moments.

In the street football was the main talking point and everywhere but today it is completely different.

It is disheartening some local fans switch to foreign leagues.

Back then, attention was mostly on Ingwe and K’Ogalo, who were invariably expected by their huge, passionate following, to at the very least, win all trophies on offer.

Winning them in style was what was demanded.

Tension started with fans who felt their club was the best, and it caught on with the officials, eventually boiling over to the players who were expected to prove to the fans that indeed they were the best.

Players and officials put personal interests behind club interests and fans were very supportive by attending matches in large numbers to make the matches highly exciting.

Players were aware of the fans’ demand for instant glory, setting the stage for many, many nervous and tense moments, and moments of magic during the derby.

It is exactly 32 years since I watched the first Mashemeji Derby at Nairobi’s City Stadium, and the duel is still very fresh in my memory. it was an exciting moment in my life.

Actually, it was the most surprising Mashemeji Derby results before a jam packed stadium of both sets of fans filled with feverish delirium for their respective beloved teams.

Gor Mahia, who were in a rampant mood racing to a 2-0, before battling Leopards cancelled the deficit to eventually win 3-2.

The wining goal was scored with 15 minutes left. Oh, what drama.

Some fans had even walked out of the stadium, surrendering to the feeling that Ingwe had lost, only to be met by others celebrating. That drama, and that quality of football needs to come back to our game.

It starts with grooming the best talent in the land and keeping it.

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